The Beautiful Changes

By: Molly McCloskey

Publication Date: 12 March 2002

(1 customer review)


The title novella and four short stories in Molly McCloskey’s dazzling second book vary in setting, tone and characterization, but their subject, always, is love. McCloskey writes of misbegotten relationships, the mysterious communion of brothers and sisters, and the invincible love of a father and daughter, in a voice at once witty, warm and sharp. Her characters are lonely when together, and pulled by the unfathomable imperatives of the heart when alone. From the dual quest narrative of ‘The Beautiful Changes’ – a daughter’s quest for a lost father, and the father’s quest for sobriety – to the funny and moving tales of family life and sexual misadventure in the shorter stories, Molly McCloskey shows herself to be a storyteller of the first rank.

‘McCloskey’s gift for capturing the precarious nature of interpersonal relations and the exquisite pain of isolated consciousnes is matched by her ability to construct startling and unpredictable plots that encompass many retrospectives and refuse orderly endings. … The Beautiful Changes reveals the adaptability of the short story form in the hands of a skilled practitioner. Molly McCloskey has produced adept and startling fictions that skilfully probe the unwieldy profundities of the human psyche.’Anne Fogarty, Irish Times

‘The novella in the book, Beautiful Changes, was the most heart wrenching and beautifully written story of alcoholism and father/daughter relationships I have ever read. Ever.’ Customer review


‘The stories build their memorable world cumulatively, piece by brittle, affecting piece.’Sylvia Brownrigg, The Times

‘A poised, fluid and darkly memorable voice … Solomon’s Seal is a pleasure to read.’Dermot Bolger, Sunday Tribune

‘McCloskey distills sparely yet strikingly the sexual grief, the loneliness of familiar relationships … Hers is the sort of voice which you have to listen to – not proclaiming her talent from the rooftops, but talking slowly, quietly, and with the ring of understated truth.’Julia Reid, Scotsman


MOLLY McCLOSKEY is the author of a previous collection of stories, Solomon’s Seal. Born in Philadelphia in 1964, she now lives in Dublin.


1 review for The Beautiful Changes

  1. Lilliput Press

    “If you’ve ever been truly alone and/or experienced the decay of a relationship, the novella and the accompanying stories of “The Beautiful Changes” may be a bit difficult to read. But that is one the challenges of life, yes? McCloskey not only meets this challenge head on, she embellishes and burnishes many of the universally critical moments of life. Not huge, burn-down-the-house moments, but small and simple ones. Ones that genuinely teach and inform.

    As a masterful follow-up to her first collection of stories (“Solomon’s Seal”) real growth and complexity are evident here. To examine her writing from a technical standpoint is a joy – but that’s not why we read. No, we read for the journey, for the catharsis, for the processes of self examination which inevitably occur – and for the sheer enjoyment of it all.

    We are expertly led on this trip by Ms. McCloskey. What we are given, as readers, is an incisive look at family, recovery, love and yearning – with good bits of levity and sweetness laced throughout. She presents us with truly clever landscapes and characters – wry and full of surprises but tempered by the bittersweet. The view here is from the inside – as we all truly live – focusing and interpreting through our own prisms and biases and confusions. Therefore there’s no real Big Bang. Only small ones that cumulatively build throughout each piece.

    The prose here is world-class – certainly this is one of the most underrated and underexposed writers of our generation. Her abilities in tapping the topical and the sentimental – plus a real ability to write men – are displayed remarkably in this collection.

    If you are a reader of Flannery O’Connor, it is safe to say that you’ve found a kindered spirit in Molly McCloskey, albeit from a less Catholic spiritual basis. Possessing a talent such as this certainly must prove tempting, in that a real challenge is to reign in the prose and avoid the overly florid. McCloskey accomplishes this in spades, showing restraint, yet managing to truly spread her wings. This is most appreciated.

    I heartily recommend this collection and hope that readers will continue to spread the word about this important writer.” B PECORA

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 140 × 220 mm
Publication Date

12 March 2002


Hardback, 222pp